(Kali The Awakener from the Daughters of the Moon deck)
We are coming into some dark times, and one of the most powerful and the most frightening of the dark goddesses is Kali-Ma. While she represents the Dark Mother, this article is focused on Her as the warrior. In the Hindu tradition, Kali is the Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection. She is fierce. She wears a belt of skulls, there is blood dripping from her mouth as she stands upon the body of her husband, holding up his severed head and, in another hand, the machete she used.
Kali was created to destroy the demons taking over the world and she was so good at, she couldn’t stop. Call it mania if you must. As the gods saw her destruction unfold, they realized she needed to be stopped and sent her spouse, knowing well that it was a suicide mission. When she killed him, she stopped her rage and was filled with remorse. Her red tongue is extended, which in India, is recognized as a symbol of humility.
Kali Ma works well as a reminder of the immense power we hold, and the need to remember to limit our rage to be appropriate and not too destructive.
Looking at current events, Kali has come to America.
As the destroyer of worlds, the oracle of sacred change, she has brought down our world with a shocking smack; all the illusions we had about the land of the free and the home of the brave were banished on election night.
“We are not who we thought we were. Now we must get ready to stand in her fires of transmutation. We need them,” wrote spiritual storyteller Vera de Chalambert in an article appearing in Rebelle Society.
There is a great yearning for change and de Chalambert stressed that rather than move out of the dark into the more comfortable light, we need to provide a space for difficult feelings to come and rest. To grow spiritually, we must enter the deepest, darkest depths of despair without hope, without light, without knowing. It is there that the darkness will heal.
“[T]he wound is the gift,” she said. No spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down.
Kali demands everything and takes it. She is the Wrathful Goddess. She is the psychic force of menstruation – the cycle of destruction that comes before fertility. She teaches us that pain, sorrow, death, decay and destruction are not overcome by denying their existence or by trying to explain them away. These are part of life and we must accept them.
Working with her, we can “get our Kali on.” We can learn to be like her. Fierce. The protective mother. We will sit in the womb of the night, awaiting our rebirth. Her gift is freedom.
This ritual was presented in “The Dark Goddess: Dancing with the Shadow” by Marcia Starck and Gynne Stern (The Crossing Press, 1993) and is reprinted here with permission.
While there are various ways to work with Kali, this ritual is being used to increase the warrior energy. It is good to do this ritual during the dark moon.
Women come dressed in saris or wearing other Indian clothes, accessories or ornamentation, including swords or other instruments appropriate to Kali-Ma. Red is a good color when working with warrior energy.
The altar should be decorated with skulls and bones, a brazier or incense burner with some joss sticks or other sweet incense, red and black candles, pictures of the Mother in both her benevolent and terrible aspects, and a small bowl with some menstrual blood.
Background music can be sitars or flutes. Women can also bring rattles and drums of any kind to use during the ritual.
The High Priestess or four different women invoke Kali through four Hindu goddesses.
• In the East, call Ushas, Goddess of Dawn, to being this new cycle and help us see through illusions and seek the truth.
• In the South, call Parvati to bring the fires of purification so we may be cleansed.
• In the West, invoke Durga to teach us to look into the dark places in our being so that we may not be afraid.
• In the North, call on Saraswati to bring us the wisdom of India, her music and dance, so we may be wise in traditions of the Goddess.
• Lastly, call Kali-Ma, Dark Mother, Great Goddess, Createtress of All There Is, Slayer of Demons, Goddess of Destruction, Goddess of Just Revenge.
One at a time, each woman approaches the altar and takes an object such as a sword or skull that exemplifies her interpretation of the warrior energy. With this object, she speaks of her need for Kali’s energy, her work with bringing forth her aggressive side, and her desire to go forth into the world and slay whatever demons of injustice or oppression burden her. She then chants and dances her feelings while the women in the circle drum or play other instruments.
When everyone has had a turn, the High Priestess dances among the women, blessing them and putting a drop of menstrual blood on each of them to show that they have been purified through Kali’s energy. The women then sit in a circle and discuss ways of being in the world that will encourage their warrior side. In closing, chant and sing to Kali:
Kali Durga, Na Mo, Na Mo
Kali Durga, Na Mo, Na Mo
(repeat eight more times)
By this ritual, may you come to understand and use the energy of Kali-Ma. You may also choose to adapt it to suit your own personal practice.
Merry part, and merry meet again.